Eclectic Reader Challenge Update

In December, my friend Stephanie at Misprinted Pages shared Book’d Out’s Eclectic Reader Challenge with me and I got on the train. I’m really enjoying the progress so far this January as I use it to work towards reaching my goal of reading 100 books this year.

So, let’s talk about what I’ve read so far and what I thought!

Guilty Pleasures

Links: Author PageGoodreads.comAmazonBarnes & Noble

My friend, Sabrina, loves Laurell K Hamilton and her work so I decided to give Guilty Pleasures a look before getting into my ERC reading list and then I realized HEY! This fits the ERC!.32

Despite all the smutty covers made for this book, it’s actually quite devoid of sex, which stunned me. It started,out similar enough to other books I’ve read in this genre at a CLUB. YEP. A CLUB. WHO WOULD’VE THUNK IT? NOT ME. NAW. Okay, this time it was an all-male, vampire revue which means that it should have a nice, Magic Mike-inspired scene should it be made into a movie. I don’t know why, but this club thing is grating on me. It’s numero uno on what not to have in my urban fantasy piece.

Hamilton did a great job with first person narration. It wasn’t too “I” heavy. A few things bugged me, which were, I assume, funny to most but  repetitive or stilting to me (such as the use of “Naw”). She over uses some of the same jokes that I thought, “once was enough, twice was pushing it, thrice–too far.” Other than that, the prose was good. The bad guy was pretty obvious making me wonder why Anita Blake missed it until he revealed himself. Why did I piece together the mystery before her?

A Clockwork Orange

A Clockwork Orange

Links: Author Page,, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

A Clockwork Orange was just too frustrating to finish. I didn’t get very far before giving up on the language. It was like reading a novel of Jabberwocky. I’ve seen the movie so I knew the language and understood what was going on which to me made reading the book pointless. If I’m only following along thinking “Oh, I remember that part of the movie,” that means I’m not enjoying the book. I’m just trudging along because lots of people like it. I’m not one of those people and that’s okay.

The Road

The Road

Links: Author Page,, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

McCarthy’s story is told with no chapters, no breaks. Just prose. I loved it. It wrapped me in this blanket and carried me along until the end of the story. A man and his child travel across the country and I’m not sure if it’s the apocalypse or McCarthy’s style, but if I could have, I might have held my breath the whole way. I was scared, worried, anxious about reading to the next page, the next paragraph because of what might happen if I continued. It was as if by not reading it, it would not happen. I don’t get this feeling very often when reading so that is a glowing recommendation.

Storm Front (The Dresden Files, #1)

Storm Front

Links: Author Page,, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

For me, Storm Front became an abandoned book about 20% in. In December, I blogged about another series by Jim Butcher, Codex Alera. When reading Codex, I was able to get past the poorly developed characters, the tropes, and the amateurish writing. In Storm Front, I couldn’t. The world, plot, and races of Codex Alera saved the series and made it worth reading but in Storm Front, it’s just not there. I just felt annoyed by the narrator, sick of the writing style, and not at all interested in any mystery. It was PI mystery mixed with all the crap I hate about urban fantasy. I know lots of people love this series, but I don’t.

No Crystal Stair: A Documentary Novel of the Life and Work of Lewis Michaux, Harlem Bookseller

No Crystal Stair

Links: Author Page,, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

No Crystal Stair is the first book I read that wasn’t for the ERC. A literary agent told one of my clients to read this to help her shape her novel so I too needed to read it. No Crystal Stair is a short, fictional, documentary (which is typically non-fiction?) book about the life of a Black Rights activist, Lewis Micheaux. The entire story is told from multiple view points all focused on Lewis. About 15% of the book is sources, acknowledgements, etc so this is a very, very short read. It’s labeled YA but I don’t buy that. There is nothing YA about this book; it might be helpful for kids to read with a history unit or to encourage self-research. The writing, in my opinion, was weak. The entire text was filled with generalized statements and showed a disconnect between writer and character probably because there were so many she attempted to write through. It was interesting and I enjoyed learning about someone but the delivery made me feeling unrewarded because of that big old word “fictional” up there. There were strange disconnects leaving plot holes over the course of the man’s life that made it frustrating in some parts. That said, it’s won awards and stuff so maybe it’s just me.



Links: Author Page,, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

In short, Elemental blew me away. For his dystopia, John used a place that most east coasters know–the Outer Banks. I vacationed at Hatteras Island one weekend and it was probably the best beach trip I’ve ever had so that paradise was set on end by John’s action/adventure story, making it even more powerful. He works to develop elemental magic though his world building is minimal, wasting no time on long info dumps, instead helps us to discover the way things work with the characters. His characters, I love. Especially Alice (what a spit-fire) and Griffin. I’m really excited for the next two books in this series.

Elemental is relatively short and is a quick, action packed read. I highly recommend this book. It’s my favorite this month.

13 thoughts on “Eclectic Reader Challenge Update

  1. AK

    I like that you admit that you don’t like stuff in the face of mass approval. Even Jim Butcher says he hates the Harry Novels before #3 or 4 (says they are unreadable). I like them – find them entertaining.

    The thing about Clockwork that was so freaking brilliant is the language. Unlike Jabberwocky, the language isn’t really made up, it’s phenomenally well-anglicised Russian. If you still have your copy, flip to the back and see if there is an afterward about that part. You don’t even have to read the book, but I do encourage you to check that essay out to see why language nerds like me will rhapsodize about Burgess. 😀 The language itself is brilliant, realistic social commentary on Cold War England.

    1. melanie_unabridged Post author

      I don’t really have high expectations for Jim Butcher and he can say his writing gets better, but I’ve read the Codex Alera series and I know better. I actually love the Codex series because the world evens out the writing but Butcher created something that I didn’t even WANT to get through. I don’t mind struggling to read things but I have to want to struggle, and I just didn’t.
      As for Clockwork, I have the Kindle edition so flipping to the back is impossible as I have no clue where that essay would start! 🙂 In terms of it being a great social commentary, I’m sure that it is. I have no doubt that it is. I just don’t want to have to get a Russian dictionary to figure out what that social commentary is. And, I think Burgess over uses the language so that I wasn’t drawn in enough before I was confused.

    2. melanie_unabridged Post author

      Also, as for mass approval–I usually avoid bandwagon books because I can so frequently dislike what is popular. I avoided the Hunger Games and Harry Potter at first for those reasons. Those were mistakes. I checked out wildly popular Cassandra Clare (what a joke) and I Am Number Four (what torture). I used to try to finish every book I started but last fall, a professor told me that over 80k books are published every year. I realized then that I needed to just stop wasting time on things I didn’t like.

      1. AK

        I finished every book until about 3 years ago. I had one I just could NOT get through. Once I gave up that one, it’s been easy for me to give up others. I abandon books a lot more often now. I am the same way about bandwagon books – avoiding them until someone I REALLY trust places them in my hands and says “stop being a snob.” 🙂

  2. starstealer363

    I agree with your sentiment about Clockwork Orange. I read it back in college or maybe even high school and it left such a bad impression that I wouldn’t pick it up again. In my case, I had to get through it – if I had had the choice, I would have put it down as well.

    Good luck on your challenge.

  3. shelleyrae @ Book'd Out

    At this rate you will have finished the challenge before the month is up! I am a fan of the Anita Blake series – and if you keep reading – the sex does come! I;m with you on Clockwork Orange, jabberwocky!

  4. Pingback: Eclectic Reader Challenge Update | Becoming Author

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